News Briefs 4/18/2013

Senate considers bipartisan Gun Control Legislation

The bipartisan gun control bill, coauthored by Senators Joe Manchin (D., W.Va) and  Pat Toomey (R., Pa) will be voted on by the end of this week. (Reuters, “Senate to take up gun-control measure this week,” 4.14.13) To curb gun-related violence, the bill proposed an expansion of the background check system used in many gun sales.

At present, background checks and recordkeeping are mandatory only for gun sale by licensed arm dealers. The new bill will take a further step to oversee transactions at gun show and over the internet.

Although it is welcomed and supported by many politicians, the gun control proposal still faces stiff opposition from conservative Republicans. 14 Republican Senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), threatened to initiate a filibuster in the approaching votes to derail the push for gun control legislation. (The Huffington Post, “Mitch McConnell to filibuster gun control bill,” 4.8.13)

Senator Toomey told the press,“I think it’s an open question as to whether or not we have the votes. I think it’s going to be close.” In specific, 60 votes are required for it to pass. (The Wall Street Journal, “’Open Question’ if gun plan will pass” 4.14.13)

On a return trip from Hartford Conn. to Washington D.C. on April 8, President Obama was escorted by 12 victims’ family members in the Newtown massacre to voice their plea for gun control bills. Francine Wheeler, mother of a 6-year-old victim in the accident, pleaded with congress,“Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.” (Yahoo.com, “Newtown mom pleads for gun control at White House,” 4.13.13) The President also urged a tougher gun-control law as he referred to the Newtown tragedy, which caused more than 20 deaths. “Shame on us if we forget Newtown”, he said, trying to pressure the Senate to pass the bill. (CNN.com “Obama: ‘Shame on us’ if Newtown doesn’t bring new gun laws” 3.29.13)

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association argued that this bill would do no good in fighting criminal use of guns and would expand government power. Another obstacle on the way to enacting a stricter gun control law is centered on the constitutionality issue of Second Amendment rights.

 

—Liz Zhou, Guest Reporter

 

Two bombs go off in Boston

Around 3 p.m EST Monday, April 15th, two explosions occurred around the finish-line of the Boston Marathon, leaving three dead and more than 170 injured. President Barack Obama commented on the event on Monday night, “Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terror.” The President also stated that any responsible individuals, any responsible groups will feel the full weight of justice.

According to law officials, the devices that triggered bombing were most likely from ordinary kitchen pressure cookers. They were probably hidden inside nylon duffel bags or backpacks and left on the street or sidewalk near the finish line (NY Times, “Boston bombs were loaded to maim” 4.16.13) The FBI has started probing the case, but suspects and motives remain unclear. It is now asking the general public to submit any photographs or video they may have taken at the blast site to help in the investigation.

Among the three who died in this accident, one is an 8-year-old boy named Martin Richard. According to first responders, Richard was standing near the finish-line to cheer on family friends running the marathon when an explosion took his life. Denis, Martin’s mother, is currently in a state of “grievous injuries”. (The Huffington Post, “Martin Richard dead. Boy, 8, dies in explosion at Boston Marathon” 4.16.13) For most of other victims, the bombings resulted in lower limb injuries. Depending on the severity of injuries, doctors in Boston’s hospitals are performing small surgeries to amputations to secure victims’ health.

Among those injured were three Tufts University students, seven Emerson College students, three Northeastern University students, two Boston College students, one Berklee College of Music student and one Boston University student. (Boston.com, “Several Boston area college students among those injured in Marathon bombings” 4.16.13)

The city subway system was temporarily disrupted on Tuesday, and grounded flights in the Logan International Airport had to wait for FAA to lift enforcement of “no-fly zone” at 5:20 p.m.

The White House announced that President Barack Obama will travel to Boston on Thursday, April 18th to attend an interfaith service dedicated to victims in the Boston bombings.

 

—Liz Zhou, Guest Reporter

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